Thought for the day
OH, THE comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away. – Dinah MM Craik
LAST week was a great week for South Africa. It might not have felt like it at the Zondo Commission into State Capture in Johannesburg where some of Juju’s Teletubbies swapped their overalls for ersatz camo, ADT flak jackets and handguns, while the rent-a-mob in red did their best to drown out Pravin Gordhan’s testimony.
But for a very brief moment I actually agreed with the selfstyled “commander-in-chief” when he promised to do an H&M on Momentum; the story that was broken last Saturday by former colleague Tanya Waterworth about an insurer welshing on a R2.4 million life insurance policy.
Nathan Ganas was shot dead in an abortive hijacking two years ago. Momentum wouldn’t pay because Ganas never disclosed he had high blood sugar levels – in fact they wanted his widow to repay the R50 000 instant cash payment they disbursed on his tragic death and which his family used for his funeral. As crusty former news editor Ray Joseph was wont to say: “you can’t make this s*** up”.
Waterworth covered the original tragedy and then kept in touch with the family, fighting for them in the finest traditions of good old-fashioned journalism when they had no one else. What happened next was that everyone, including the EFF C-I-C, jumped on the bandwagon and literally created a momentum of public outrage that swamped Momentum.
To their credit, Momentum saw the error of their ways, recanted, and did the right thing not just for Denise Ganas and her family, but for all their other clients who might fall victim to violent crime (provided of course that they aren’t insured for more than R3 million).
It was a victory for common sense and for all South Africans screwed over by faceless corporates, call centres and clerks specifically chosen for their bovine indifference and studied incompetence.
This was a particularly egregious example of callousness and profiteering, but there are so many others that we all live through every day. I sat at ORT last Saturday for almost four hours after BA delayed a flight to Livingstone.
Afterwards I was asked to fill in a questionnaire to “share my experience” with them, on the proviso that they wouldn’t be able to respond to me, but would share my feedback with their “relevant internal teams”. Truly.
That’s about as useful as a onelegged man in an arse-kicking contest, but you can see how that attitude would ultimately translate to welshing on paying out a life insurance policy where you died in a hail of bullets, because you had high blood pressure – because that’s what the legal fine print allows. Not for nothing is the law an ass and high-level executives totally out of touch with the lived reality of their ostensible customers.
Talking of asses, by Wednesday we were back to the faux revolutionaries in Parktown squealing against those lifting the lid on the suppurating mess of state capture, before getting into their luxury German people carriers.
Maybe it’s time their ordinary members read the fine print on what they signed up for too. I HAVE the most terrible difficulty dropping off to sleep at night. The condition has developed from a dependency on tablets whose names contained prefixes like “dormi” and endings like “-noct” and “-cum”.
This dependency left me with the vicious legacy of the “halflife” contained in each of these nostra. It meant that I was still sufficiently sedated to sleep spontaneously at any time during the following day.
And I romanticised this terrible condition by joking that I was only catching a “zizz”.
In one sense, the wakeful nights worked in my favour while I pursued further studies. I could literally burn the midnight oil.
My results were always good, but they came at a bitter price: sleeplessness. It also created the need for tonics and pick-me-ups during the daylight hours.
Often these energy boosts took the form of booze.
Lately, when I seek help for this unenviable condition, I am given advice that is so glaringly obvious that I could spit blood.
They tell me not to sleep during the day and to make my body tired towards bed time by doing physically taxing things.
And this to a person whose only exercise is jumping to conclusions.
The advice to stay awake during the day was doubly ironic because of the decades of ingesting sleeping tablets. The withdrawal from chemical dependence is as hard as it is hazardous.
The chilling term “cold turkey” comes to mind. People have been known to die from a sudden, unchoreographed cessation of chemical or other dependence. It requires medical supervision.
Advice for the condition includes drinking scented teas, like chamomile. Or lukewarm milk.
Also, they say: if you cannot sleep, do not count sheep. Talk to the shepherd.
What it boils down to is not a pathology but our own flawed process of socialisation. God created the world in diurnal mode. Sunlight hours were for gainful employment. The night is designed for the recovery of spent strength through sleep. The setting sun is the signal for going to sleep.
But we messed with that by lengthening the hours of production by introducing artificial sunlight. The improved night-lighting gave us improved productivity. “Overtime” and “double time” meant increased earnings even as it ignored the wrench to the psyche. Such is the impetus of the profit motive and material gain.
It doesn’t take rocket science to see how mankind would evolve agencies to both induce and evade natural sleep. This in itself spawned another lucrative industry.
Our teachers today epitomise that dichotomy.
They need to take sleeping and calming tablets to heal the ravages of the day. Come the morning, they reach for tonics and pick-meups and help-me-copes.
No wonder when we die the ultimate solace is for us to Requiescat in pace: Rest in peace.